By Sohaila Barghash
As Ilhan Omar emphasized the importance of being able to differentiate between real antisemitism and basic political facts, she opened up a discussion that was long ignored; the role of lobbyists in American politics, and the unjustified, unconditional American support for Israel.
Publicly criticised by leaders of her own party for using what was largely considered “anti-Semitic tropes,” the freshman Democrat Ilhan Omar issued an apology, however standing for her right to criticise Israel.
It is therefore apparent that Ilhan Omar and her fellow freshman representative Rashida Tlaib are so far the only representatives who have bravely criticized the Israeli government for its cruel treatment of the Palestinian people.
Even though, acknowledging the crimes committed by Israel against Palestinians is a dangerous move for American elected officials.
For instance, when presidential candidate Bernie Sanders made a statement in support of Palestinians saying “We are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity”, his words became likely controversial.
As the Democratic Party prepares for the 2020 elections, many supporters are afraid the party may be endangering the traditionally strong support for Israel among lawmakers of both parties.
President Donald Trump expresses his support for the country in every occasion possible and had recently transferred the American embassy to Jerusalem, causing public opinion to shift toward Republicans, and voters to increase.
Omar’s support for the BDS movement has also caused controversy and criticism, while more than half of US states passed laws attacking BDS, regardless of limiting the constitutional right to free speech and expression, the congresswoman continued to stand for her opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
These events come amid Israel’s ignorance of international law, and the construction of settlements in the West Bank.
Additionally, they passed a measure affirming that the country is a Jewish nation-state, which was supported by US president Donald Trump, who also asked Ilhan Omar to resign over her tweets, yet internationally and especially regionally, this move was criticised calling Israel an apartheid.
Many Democrats have therefore opened up to criticising what they consider Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinians and unethical occupation of the West Bank.
Based on a 2018 report from the Pew Research Center, the number of Republicans who favor Israel over Palestine in the conflict has increased 29% since 2001, while the number of Democrats who favor Israel has decreased 11% in the same time frame.
So by simply supporting a justice movement for Palestinians, or standing for their cause, Omar and Tlaib have opened themselves up to a severe and continues attacks from liberals, centrists and the right.
Furthermore, the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, threatened to punish the two representatives if Democratic party leaders failed to do so.